Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Lactation Education

At church a few weeks ago, Piper was hungry and crabby after the service, so while Max got coffee and chatted with some friends, I took her into the "infant room" of the child-care wing to nurse her. Usually I'd just take her out to the car, but I was feeling both brave and too tired to drag her all the way out to the parking lot, not to mention she was yowling like a wounded Yeti while climbing all over me and pinching my arms. We were rapidly approaching meltdown. The baby room was close, likely deserted, and quick.

The lights were off, the room was empty of people. I sat down in the sole rocking chair and wrestled the baby into position. A little boy of probably three or four came in and started playing with some of the toys. I stayed were I was, since it didn't bother me to have him in there and he didn't seem like he even noticed I was nursing. He got out a game that resembled Connect Four, except it was dog-shaped. I saw that it was actually more like Tic-Tac-Toe, and you had to use the dog's tail to flip the red or blue chips into the slot you wanted. He played by himself for a minute, and then he decided he wanted company.

"Hey, can your baby come play with me?" he asked.
"Um, not right now," I answered.
"Yes she can," he said. "She can come down here and play this game with me."
"Well, maybe in a minute," I said. "She's eating right now."
I suddenly had his full attention. "She's eating?"
He looked puzzled. He came closer and leaned over me, peering directly at the spot where Piper was guzzling milk. "Is that baby biting your boobie?" he asked in a voice of concern.
I stifled a laugh. "No," I said, "she's not biting me. There's milk in there."
He looked completely astounded. "There's milk? In there?"
"Yes, it's milk, but it's not like regular milk. It's special milk for babies."
"Oh." He paused and looked back at his game. "Well, when she's done can she come down here and play?"
"Okay." And true to my word, when she was done I put her on the floor and she watched him flip the little red and blue discs around until I stood up and said we had to go.

I bet that kid's parents got quite the earful on the car ride home.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Little Stinker

My child is sleeping in her swing (oh blessed instrument of peace) and snoring. Little baby snores.

Earlier, she managed to smell up the entire living room with a diaper so stinky it had to go immediately into the garbage cans outside, it could not be left in the pail until the nightly trash run. And that was nothing compared to Sunday's fun, when she pooped so much it blew out her diaper, soaked through the 3 layers of clothing she was wearing (including her socks), soaked the seat of her Exersaucer (which is how I disovered the cloth part comes off and is machine-washable), puddled beneath her feet, and soaked through both of my shirts when I picked her up.

Don't even get me started on her farts. She's always been gassy, but not particularly stinky. For some reason, in the past month she's started to smell like a locker room full of frat boys eating cabbage-and-bean burritos.

I will never lose her in a crowd, because I can smell her from 15 feet away.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

24 Weeks

It's unbelievable to me how fast we are zooming up to the 6-month-mark. Every day Piper gets less and less like a baby and more like a miniature toddler. She is still changing every day, and every day she gets more fun and interactive. Of course, this also makes her harder to entertain because she needs more stimuli - simply plopping her in front of the picture window and letting her watch leaves blow around isn't cutting it anymore.

To that end, I broke down and let an Exersaucer enter the house. I tried hard to avoid it, but just couldn't hold out. She likes to stand up, but can't do it on her own, so someone has to hold her up. I love my kid, but I can't sit there and hold her up all day, I have other things to do (like eat, shower, and oh, I don't know, the 14 loads of laundry piled up in the basement). Hence the Exersaucer. It's not like she stays in it all day - I can get 5-20 minutes of stuff done once I put her in there, and then it's on to the next activity.

When we do hold her in a standing postion, however, she has the mechanics of walking down pat. She will happily march between the two of us or do little crazylegs-marching-dances in place. When she's playing alone on the floor she can spin herself in circles and creep towards objects. She's getting pretty fast at it, and I have to constantly patrol the living-room floor to make sure things like knitting needles, stray leaves, and people's shoes (she likes to suck on the shoelaces) are picked up. She pushes herself up on her hands now, and I feel that the legs aren't very far behind. Everyone's still betting she will be crawling by the end of the year.

She's gotten very vocal this week - enter screaming. She's been shrieking for a while, but has now developed that high-pitched ultra-loud little-kid scream of delight. Occsionally it is a scream of less-than-delight, but mostly she screams for the fun of it. Which is hilarious, except when it's 1:30 in the morning and she just wants to climb all over me and scream in my ears. And that kid is LOUD. If we're in the living room, she can be heard all the way at the other end of the house upstairs. I'm pretty sure they can hear her outside, even with the windows shut against the cold. Actually, I'm pretty sure they can hear her in Toledo.

Between the Exersaucer, the (3) baby gyms, all the bright-colored toys and books scattered everywhere and the constant screaming, the living room is starting to resemble a Chuck E. Cheese's.

When she's not screaming, she's babbling. This week it's "d" sounds, a constant stream of "a-da da da da...a-daadadaDADADA!!" Max loves it because it is that much closer to an actual "Dada" even though he knows she's not using it in context yet. She still makes the "mamamamma" noise when she's hungry or she wants me, so we are still counting it as contextual. She will sob "mamamama!" while holding her chubby little arms out to me, and of course it melts me into little puddles. The worst heartstring-tug came a few days ago, when I was trying to let her cry herself to sleep. I plopped her in the crib with a blankie and some toys, but she wasn't having any of it. She started to cry, and I had to practically sit on my hands not to pick her up. I tried patting her back and shushing, but she looked right at me and sobbed (with real tears dripping down her face) "nununononooo mama!" Just about broke my fucking heart.

Monday, November 05, 2007


Good Lord, I go a long time here between updates. I'm prone to letting this thing sit idle for weeks or months, then dropping a flurry of back-dated posts and disappearing again.

Today I want to talk about Halloween. We did not do anything this Halloween, and for the first time in a long time, that was a big let-down. Actually, this year, it was a crushing disappointment to me. In years past, I sat in a puddle of disappointment as the hours ticked by and we sat at home futzing around on the Internet or watching stupid TV instead of going to fun parties or hosting successful bashes of our own. We never really got invited anywhere, and the one time we did attempt to throw a party, hardly anyone showed up (to be fair, it was pretty short notice) and we were left with 73 Jello shots, 2 cases of beer, a tub of ice, and 14 caramel apples. We were both sick for days afterward, because who in their right mind is going to let caramel apples and Jello shots go to waste? I don't think I was able to look at Jello without shuddering for two years.

These yearly disappointments could always be somewhat lessened by going the next day and stocking up on half-price candy and novelty socks at Target. No, I did not have a fun, exciting Halloween, but I did have 6 bags of fun-size Snickers. And, I reasoned, the bags of candy I stashed in the freezer would keep me happy until Thanksgiving at least, whereas waking up with a hangover and spotty memories of the undoubtedly stupid things I'd done and said the night before was pretty much a one-time gift.

This year, I did not anticipate parties that never materialized, I did not envy my friends' plans to get shit-faced on Day-Glo colored drinks and leave smears of greasy facepaint on the rims of unfamilar toilet seats. This year, what I looked forward to was dressing up our adorable little charge and parading her around so she could see and be seen. She loves to people-watch, and I figured we'd have a grand old time wandering around with her in some sort of costume, letting her watch away. And, hey, if we scored some candy in the deal, so much the better.

We even had her costume picked out - a lobster. Yes, it was one of those silly little baby-bunting costumes, but we saw it last year, when I was just barely pregnant, and thought it was hilarious. Besides, then we could call her "First Lobster" in a British accent. For our part in the costume revelry, we could wear lobster bibs and carry around a tub of butter. Hilarious, right?

Unfortunately, our monetary situation this year did not lend itself to spending $25 on frivolous things like a baby lobster costume. That's okay, I reasoned, she still has her wizard outfit from the Harry Potter book party back in July. It was huge on her then, and it's just a tie-front open-bottom gown, it should still fit. She can wear that. It'll still be cute.

But even that did not come to pass. We spent Halloween at home, doing nothing. Since we're still at my parents' house and don't really know anybody here anyway, it's not like we could have a party. We had nobody to go trick-or-treating with, and I thought it was a little gauche to take Piper by herself. It would be pretty obvious that we were only in it for the candy. I suppose we could've taken her around the neighborhood and rang some doorbells but told people we didn't want the candy. Then again, that's really saying "hey, we don't want candy, but tell us how cute our baby is!" We didn't even have any friends to visit or anything. So we sat at home. Piper got a kick out of seeing the 10 or so (seriously, that's all there were all night, mostly neighborhood kids my mom has baby-sat at one time or another) trick-or-treaters that came to the door. She loves to watch other kids anyway, and she thought the costumes were funny.

I sat on the couch watching pointless television the whole night, my underlying resentment at our situation simmering like a pot of four-alarm chili. If we'd still been in California, I told myself, we could go trick-or-treating with our friends E & M and their two little girls. We could take the baby around to our friends' houses and hang out drinking hard cider until 11 p.m. It would be the Halloween we'd been dreaming about for a year, ever since we saw that lobster costume. Instead, I spent the night hearing my mom say "look at our baby!" to everyone who came to the door and discussing Piper in a voice filled with ownership.

It was really a perfect illustration of why this situation isn't working for me, and how all my biggest fears about doing this have been realized. No jobs, no money, no friends, no chance for escape. We are broke, and it will be a while before we can afford to move out of here. The longer we stay, the more influence my mom has over our daughter. My mother likes to grab at and lay claim to so many things in my life, and my baby has not escaped this behavior. In fact, she is probably more grabby and territorial with Piper than she has been with anything else up to this point. This may only be because she can carry the baby around without remark, but people would've thought it strange if she had locked me in a a closet, put on my wedding dress, and hijacked our wedding. As it was, she came pretty close. Now she seems to think she has a free pass labled "Doting Grandmother." And as long as things stay the way they are, I can't do much to stop that.

There's always next Halloween, and, as a friend of mine pointed out, Piper won't even remember. I suppose those things are true, but they don't do anything to make it feel less like someone stole my baby's first Halloween from us. Next year she'll be too big for silly bunting costumes, next year she'll want to pick her own. Next year she'll be walking and talking and probably ready to trick-or-treat in her own right. She probably won't remember this boring, house-bound Halloween (or care). I will. I will remember that this year, her first time with my favorite holiday, there was nothing to remember.